THE dismantling of what is most likely the oldest and least changed building in Shoalhaven Heads is set to begin on Saturday.
It will be painstaking. As each piece is removed it will be photographed and numbered before it is wrapped and stored.
Known as Jerry Bailey Cottage, the three-room building has become the focus of a community operation to restore it.
Heritage adviser John Oultram met with Shoalhaven Heads Community Forum president Laurie Talbot and forum members Christine Talbot and Anne-Louise O’Connor on Monday to explain the numbering system and begin a measured survey of the cottage.
He said he was shocked by the heritage value when he first saw the cottage.
“This building is just hanging in there,” he said.
“Another few years and it wouldn’t have been saveable.”
He said having an intact roof and good under-floor ventilation helped the structure survive the elements for 80 to 90 years.
“You can see the areas where water has got in, the timber doesn’t last very long,” he said.
The building’s frame work is made from logs, something that caught Mr Oultram’s eye.
“The log structure is very unusual. Those saplings would have been cut locally, but it’s not something you see very often,” he said.
“Taking the cottage apart will start with removing all the pieces that won’t be kept to give a good idea of what’s behind it.”
Mr Oultram said one of the most important parts of the project would be the careful numbering of each piece.
“You don’t want to end up with a pile of wood on the floor,” he said.